Well, that was a knock-out! Matthieu Blazy has done it three times in a row now at Bottega Veneta—wowed us with a collection that simultaneously ups the fashion ante while also delivering real-life relatability. Just how rare a feat that is was demonstrated by the texts that started coming in as we waited for a chance to speak to the designer: “Every single look perfect.” “The variety!” “Not a second of ennui.”
Blazy has launched himself to the very top of fashion in a very short amount of time. Backstage he seemed overwhelmed, but utterly prepared, explaining that his inclination this season was to start with the street, and “the idea of the strange encounter—people that you meet in the street and they really amaze you. It’s a place where everyone belongs,” like a parade, or Carnevale, “where there is absolutely no hierarchy.”
The Boccioni statue and the Roman bronzes loaned from museums for the show were “part of the parade,” Blazy explained. “The idea was to reconnect Italy through its history. The debate we have with the team is the idea of positive nationalism, that you can reappropriate your history in a very positive way.”
By this point in the season, fashion has usually settled into a rhythm. These 81 looks adhered to no developing trends because together they were all different. There’s security in a single message show, but Blazy and the team “decided not to edit the collection.” Instead, they kept adding characters and occasions for which to dress them, starting with a just-stepped-out-of-bed sheer dressing gown and house shoes. What does a Bottega Veneta house shoe look like? It’s a slipper sock, only the wool upper is not wool at all but knitted leather.
The breakthrough leather tank top and leather jeans of Blazy’s season one bookended the show. In between, we saw layered dresses with sweet flower embroideries that called to mind luxury long johns, deconstructed 1950s screen star dresses, and an exceptional LBD with a swooping neckline and a front slit not quite high enough to reveal the top of over-the-knee intrecciato boots. Another footwear option that attracted notice were the bulbous jelly pumps.
Materials-wise, Blazy was after light, unconstrained fabrics. He said they shaved leather to make it more weightless, and that a showstopper of a fringed coat wasn’t embroidered, as might be expected, but woven in one piece. The silhouettes sometimes went to extremes. ‘Rolled’ waistband skirts were meant to conjure the fishtail bottom half of mermaids, fantastic creatures being part of Carnevale festivities. But there were also cleanly tailored double-layer coats and jackets for women and men.
We could go on and on about the aesthetics of Blazy’s Bottega Veneta. But it’s worth talking about the generosity of his instincts, and the inclusivity. In what has to be one of the most genuine, least pretentious comments ever uttered backstage, he said, “I always look at how women and men here layer. It’s very sophisticated, even when it doesn’t work, you know? It’s so personal.” Officially, this show marked the end of his Italian trilogy. Where to next? Blazy’s enthusiasm is contagious. We walked out happier than when we went in, 100% ennui free.
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